Pittsburgh’s Muralidhar* Ajit Ranganathan Returns to India

By Kalyani Raghavan, Edgewood, PA

* Muralidhar in Sanskrit literally means “The one who holds a bamboo flute.”

Ajit Ranganathan, whose mellifluous bamboo flute has entertained many lay and seasoned listeners of Indian classical music for over sixteen years here, has moved back to India on a career change.

Ajit Ranganathan in the Clevelend Tyagaraja Music Festival . The Flute Maestro N. Ramani in the foreground. Photo: Usha Raghu.

Hailing from the temple town of Srirangam in Tamil Nadu, Ajit got his Electrical Engineering degree from Anna University, Chennai. He earned his mas­ters’ degree in electrical and computer engineering from New York University, Buffalo.

In India, he had initial training on the flute from Srimathi N. Kesi, a disciple of the flute legend T.R. Mahalingam (Mali). After coming to Pittsburgh, Ajit, a regular at the annual Cleveland Tyagaraja Music Festival, fine-tuned his technique from the maestro Sri N. Ramani. Ajit has played with Ramani on several occasions at the Cleveland Festival.

In addition to giving full-length recitals in Pittsburgh at S.V.Temple and in Oakland, Ajit has unstintingly helped organizers who approached him for short recitals in their programs. He performed in the Indian Nationality Room dedication function in 2000 at the University of Pittsburgh and also during the opening day of the Tropi­cal Forest India exhibit at the Phipps Conservatory in 2011.

People have enjoyed his recital in the India Day celebration at the Ca­thedral of Leaning, particularly during the initial years when the organizers were struggling to increase participation. He has played countless times every year as part of live orchestra all over the USA.

Ajit has been a vital part of the cultural activities at the S.V.Temple for years, where he was the Chairperson for the Cultural Committee and also its Treasurer. He regularly participated in the temple’s music festivals and during Navaratri. He is well-versed in many classical Sanskrit and Tamil devotional hymns.

Those who have interacted with him have always noticed Ajit’s unas­suming demeanor. He always dressed in traditional white dhoti for all religious and music functions at the temple. We will miss not just his musical talents, but also his gentlemanly smiling presence. Most prob­ably, we will see Ajit again in the US when he comes on business trips or work, or for giving flute recitals.

Who knows? He may even move back to the US. For now, we wish him well, and thank him for enriching our cultural life in Pittsburgh.


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